Western Michigan University Health Promotion and Education hosted an online Reclaiming SEXploration Workshop on Friday, April 1 for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Peer educators shared the importance of consent and respecting each other's boundaries during sexual interactions.
Jillian Palmer, a WMU graduate student, began the Zoom meeting by discussing what she hoped the audience would walk away with.
“I would love for everyone to walk out realizing there's a difference between sex and intimacy, and even better this difference can be up to the individual person,” Palmer said.
Palmer encouraged the audience to look at the terms in a broader manner.
“(A) great way to kick off the practice of finding our definition to what society has taught us is by thinking of the experience you would prefer to be (in),” Palmer said.
Palmer described how to deal with triggers of sexual assault by discussing dislikes with your partner.
“Be kind to your mental, physical and emotional self,” Palmer said.
WMU Undergraduate student, Lexi Tyler, discussed the importance of recognizing consent between individuals.
“If it isn’t a hell yes it's a hell no,” Tyler said. “The most important thing is we want to respect everyone's boundaries.”
With illustrative assistance, Tyler shared the value of self-respect when establishing boundaries.
“We can practice building our sense of self-respect by having the consideration for ourselves to say these are the things that I need and I'm not willing to compromise,” Tyler said.
Tyler continued: “We’re making sure that we’re showing ourselves just as much respect as we strive to show others learning to respect ourselves, and the things we stand for is we’re very much important in the relationship.”
Using the FRIES, an acronym for consent, standing for freely given, reversible, reformed, enthusiastic and specific, Tyler shared how humans are ever-changing and what may be pleasurable one day may be different from the next.
“It’s a journey, not something that happens overnight,” Tyler said.
Palmer shared her opinion on the importance of sexual assault workshops.
“We really feel this workshop, in particular, can be a great starting point to the journey of reclaiming sexual intimacy,” Palmer said.
Tyler added her thoughts on the workshop's importance during sexual assault awareness month.
“The kind of conversations we are having in this workshop, and the workshops throughout sexual assault awareness month are difficult conversations to have which is even more reason why we need to be having them,” Tyler said.
WMU’s Health Promotion and Education will host another Reclaiming SEXploration Workshop from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on April 14.